Death Before Sin? Immortalized in a Paulogia Cartoon am I

The video itself is well edited, and I am curious the response to it too.

@jongarvey @dga471 @deuteroKJ @Philosurfer


I like the Jesus/gospel focus, and how AiG does not represent all YECs by tying their YECism to the gospel so closely. I found it an interesting angle to focus on the “even if literal” angle, though obviously this format does allow all things to be addressed. The vegetarian issue, e.g., could go several directions, and deserves hard exegetical work. Also–and this might be my biggest negative–the idea that there is “no problem” between evolution and a literal reading will come across glib (if that’s the right word) to some. I know what you mean…but that’s b/c I’m in these discussions. But it’s not easy & obvious to most (and people outside the garden is not an easy thing to swallow for them). Thus, I hope this doesn’t come across as too much “inside baseball” to onlookers with no background. It’ll be interesting to see the comments and any feedback.

But kudos to you and Paul for doing this. Great plug for Peaceful Science.


It seems to be quite effective.

Yeah I agree. I’m no expert, but it seems that the dietary component of Genesis 1 is part and parcel of creating a sacred space set apart from others. It certainly doesn’t preclude carnivory outside that sacred space or in violation of Gods wishes. The idea that death is not compatible with a Good God is just inconsistent with the later point in scripture where God endorsed eating meat. To the scripture conflict with this particular YEC theology (which many YEC don’t hold) is strong.

Perhaps. The fact that I wrote a whole book on it makes pretty clear that there is substance behind my point.

I think it is a very effective sound bite because it grabs attention and provokes all the right questions in the end. Eg what is literal? Which literal reading? How could that be?

The point I’m making is a brute fact. People outside the garden is part of the Genesis tradition going back thousands of years, long before evolution. We can establish this fact with evidence, and acknowledging this fact does not requiring “swallowing” the idea in terms of personally believing it. This is just a historical fact.

Yes, many will have difficulty with this idea, just as many were troubled by the crazy notion of antipodians. But the fact that the tradition already includes the mystery outside the Garden raises a lot of question about why precisely they oppose it.

Likely many will still reject evolution. But on what grounds? They will need to find new reasons.


I just finished watching it. Aside from my many problems with your arguments (which I don’t have the energy right now to point out/debate) as soon as I saw the link from Capturing Christianity’s meme I was wondering why you chose to be on his channel. I don’t deserve an answer, but I was actually anxious for you @swamidass. My impression is that many Christian apologists don’t feel he represents them fairly. My first thought was if that would be a problem for your relationships with some people by appearing on this channel. Perhaps not. I hope not.

But I had also wondered if you had done your homework before agreeing to the recording. I had thought about mentioning to you in the past that he had mentioned your argument in an interview I had watched and said he doesn’t buy it and actually believes a YEC interpretation makes more sense of the Bible (I’m not quoting exactly; just the sense of what he said.) I figured it wasn’t a big deal to mention it when I heard it; your ideas are becoming better known. But now I wish I had. So I did not find Paulogia to be honest when it seemed he acted for a bit as if he didn’t know exactly what your book was about. I’m not sure which interview Paulogia mentioned this in, perhaps when Jon Steingard interviewed him. So then, I’m not sure these commenters are wrong about Paulogia’s motivation:

“Not sure i trust Bryan’s word over God’s word…”
“…In place of what God actually said in scripture”

“God’s word” here is simply Dr Swamidass’ interpretation of scripture. I’m sure Bryan feels the same about not trusting Dr Swamidass word(interpretation) over what he believes is actually God’s word.
Nothing new here, just Christians having problems with interpretation of their own scripture.

Edit: the real entertainment here is the concept of this video and not the content. Paulogia knows exactly what he’s doing LOOL.

Pinecreek did a similar thing a few years ago. He got Mike Winger and an evolutionist Christian scientist on his show at the same time. Halfway through the show, Mike suddenly says “Pinecreeks goal is to show me that I’m denying evidence, and to show you (the other guest) that you’re denying scripture!” It took him a whole hour to figure that out…

Overall, sadness doesn’t describe my reaction. Grief is better.

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I did think through that quite a bit. I do not agree with Paulogia on many things, such as his argument against the Resurrection. But he also represented me in good faith, unlike Pinecreek. Those two are not the same category.

I do find it notable that many Christians are uncomfortable appearing on an atheist channel. I’m not the first though. @sygarte also has, and interestingly enough it appears it was less controversial when he did.

In the end, I explain the gospel in an unexpected place. Even if you disagree with what I said of Genesis, surely you agree that with what I said if him. Right?

Grief. I don’t understand why that is your reaction. I hope to learn more about why that was your response.


I follow several atheist channels on YouTube because I want to know what atheists are saying about Christians. Of the channels I’ve watched, including PineCreek and Aaron Ra, I think Paulogia is the most open to engaging with different Christian viewpoints. He’s also unfailingly polite to people who disagree with him. I had to stop watching PineCreek because Doug is so angry.
I know Paulogia’s critics say he misrepresents them, and maybe he has, but I haven’t seen it. I think that overall he does a good job of accurately presenting their positions and he readily admits when he makes a mistake.


I am familiar with all these atheist channels (as well as Matt Dillahunty, Shannon Q, and others), but I am more familiar with MythVision Podcast by Derek Lambert and Digital Hammurabi by Dr. Joshua Bowen and his wife Megan Lewis (they are both assyriologist and they know the Hebrew Bible quite well).
I wont comment on motives on the part of Paul (who has collaborated with Matt D. and Shannon Q several times), but instead I’ll refer to this video by Ben Stanhope (a young MA graduate and author of (Mis)interpreting Genesis: How the Creation Museum Misunderstands the Ancient Near Eastern Context of the Bible):

Animals Died Before the Fall - Where the Creation Museum Gets the Bible Wrong

I noticed that too, but took this to be a setup for @swamidass to plug his book - a deliberate leading question.


Bryan Osborne says: “can we trust the text in context.” For him it’s “Biblical Authority.” This is the issue with them: their view of inspiration and inerrancy (or biblical authority). This is why on my blog I had started to dissect inspiration and inerrancy and I still have a long way to go.

@swamidass :slight_smile:

“Bryan’s word over God’s word”:
AiG and Bryan are (1) concluding Biblical Authority means that the text must be in accord in some ways with modern discoveries in science [which is provably untrue], (2) the Bible is uniform all throughout [which is provably untrue, take a look at Canonicity and Textual Criticism]. It’s not so uniform, fixed and rigid, is it?

“Genesis allows millions of years,” “gaps in the genealogies,” and “there’s space…”:
The only reason it appears that Genesis ‘allows’ millions of years is precisely because of its literary structure, and its structure and content match much more the ANE–either from the first millennium BCE (or some parts might stem from the second millennium BCE)–than it ever would modern concerns in the sciences and history. Therefore, the “allowance” is not necessarily scientifically intentional, just coincidental for ANE purposes, not to actually allow millions of years à la evolutionary science. To say that it allows for millions of years is to not be aware of the rest of the Hebrew Bible which matches the ANE, overall. The genealogies are not written that way because it allows millions of years of evolution, but because of ancient literary practices with ANE thinking. This is why most–but not all–Old Testament and Semitic scholars will align with the ANE as the primary framework in which to interpret the OT because the OT has features that directly join into the ANE. The scholarly OT outliers out there who agree with YEC or OEC (such as Dr. William D. Barrick, who defends YEC independently from Wheaton College) do so because of their own view of Biblical Authority, not because of objective data in science and the Hebrew Bible.

Nevertheless, your conclusion that, “The Bible doesn’t really tells us” is still correct, but that is accidental because it appears that you still need to see how the OT matches the ANE much more than it would ever superficially resemble something scientific in our modern understanding and conversations.

Again, I recommend Ben Stanhope’s video about death and fall above, which is far more cogent and learned on Genesis.

For the rest of the video, I agreed with most of your statements about dietary laws/rules and the rest of your overall understanding about the Gospel message and the resurrection. It’s correct that “very good” does not equal “perfect”. Even Adam and Eve were not “perfect” (infallible?) before being expelled and prevented from approaching the Tree of Life. Only if they would have accessed the Tree of Life would they have become “perfect” or, actually, immortal. Adam and Eve were not immortal according to the text, otherwise the Tree of Life has no place in the story. All this echoes much more mortality/immortality and trees of life in Mesopotamian literature than it does our modern scientific and historical concerns.

  • Notes:
    For canonicity, I recommend Mike Licona’s 5-part series (I think it’s 5 parts) with Martin Lee McDonald on OT Canonicity. You will see that YEC’s view of Inspiration and Inerrancy (and anyone else who holds to fundamentalism) cannot work out smoothly.

For the resurrection, I recommend Mike Licona’s 4-part interviews with NT historian Dale Allison. As much as I like Mike Licona, my current understanding of the resurrection and first-century history leans towards Prof. Dr. Larry W. Hurtado’s understanding as well as young NT scholar Laura Robinson who had an exchange with Mike Licona not long ago about their disagreements on what can be known on the resurrection. The resurrection cannot be securely, historically inferred as far as the data go–in accordance with Hurtado, Robinson, and Allison. Matt Dillahaunty, consequently, is superficially correct that the resurrection cannot be secured thus far. Mike Licona, along with Garry Habermas, argue that it could be securely inferred from the data as well as near-death experiences, other metaphysical phenomena, and the Shroud of Turin. Im not so sure…


See Dr. Joshua Bowen’s piece over Paulogia is cogent:

The Bible isn’t a Timeline (feat. Joshua Bowen) - Evolution Exposed Exposed

I recommend Dr. Joshua Bowen’s YouTube Channel Digital Hammurabi even if he is an atheist (he was a Christian a while ago and deconverted). The scholarship is correct, although I would not share all his conclusions.

  • My current understanding of Genesis 1 is that it exhibits 7 normal days (24 hours is not an ancient understanding of days–for them it was daylight), and so it appears that YEC is interpreting this part correctly, but they don’t because than they force that understanding into their scientific interpretation. Genesis 1 exhibits 7 days from an ANE perspective, not from a modern, scientific perspective. That’s the issue with YEC. Old-earth creationism is wrong not because of the science (esp. Astronomy) but because of what they do to the Bible. (Dr. Michael S. Heiser, for example, has already discussed how Dr. Hugh Ross goes off the rails with OEC).
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These are more charitable reads of him. But yet why would you bring in a Christian guest whose position you believe is not a good interpretation of the Bible explain why another’s position is against the gospel unless you just enjoy lighting a match and watching it burn? That was my concern as soon as I realized @swamidass was on the show.

Earlier that day I had watched Sean McDowell explain exactly how Paulogia misrepresented him.

I’m not sure whether Paulogia enjoys portraying himself as polite and even-handed or actually is polite. Obviously I’m not a fan. :blush: But all of us are sinners, so I don’t actually expect him to be perfectly polite either.

@swamidass you mentioned that Bryan had said animal death was “intrinsically evil” - was this in a slide off video? Because I didn’t hear it in Paulogia’s video and it is a problem if he said it, but if not, it is obviously a straw man. Although there are many things on my list, I thought that may have been the biggest misrepresentation if he didn’t say it.

It got drowned out after you saying temporary beings can bring more joy and are very good. You presented the core of the gospel as “Jesus rose from the dead and He is good.” That isn’t the gospel. The gospel is that we are sinners, Christ died for us, and He rose again so that we know we will also have eternal life with God.

Meanwhile Bryan had said rejecting death before sin rejects the foundation of Christ’s atonement. Then again you said he was saying YEC is the foundation of the Christian faith (I didn’t hear that in the part of the presentation Bryan gave, but it is something I’ve heard you accuse AIG of before), and you laid no foundation for Christ’s atonement in your presentation of the gospel. What does it matter if Jesus is good if we are too? And this temporary life is very good too?

Also I reread Genesis 3. The text literally states that Adam and Eve would live forever if they were not exiled from the garden. It does not literally say that that the exile is how death came upon them. God introduced death pronouncements before that.

The grief was in all of that - the forum where I did not trust the intentions of the interviewer, the strawmans from my POV, and just lack of charity among Christians on this issue always makes me sad. We’re so busy to prove a point that we do not listen and consider others better than ourselves.

It did not come up in his presentation or yours, but I think it’s such a given in the OT we forget WHY we’re even talking about animal death - what does that have to do with Jesus… But…animal sacrifices! Obviously they point to Jesus’ atoning work, so if animals died before man sinned, can their deaths still point to Christ? It’s a question worth asking about how this fits into biblical interpretation. Animal death being “intrinsically evil” is obviously not true or Seth could not have brought a sacrifice. That’s why I think it’s important to clarify whether Bryan said it or not. As far as I read the Bible, actions and thoughts are evil because they are against God’s commandments. “Intrinsically evil” doesn’t actually make sense. And death is something that happens to us; it’s a punishment.

Anyway, if we leave out the importance of animal death as atonement in the old covenant in this conversation, I think it may lead to more confusion and a lack of clarity in the conversation. Just thought of that after watching.

Not quite. The text literally says that they would live forever if they ate from the Tree of Life, and they were exiled quickly in order to prevent them from doing that. Thus they were mortal while in the Garden.


Thanks for the correction.

That doesn’t necessarily follow perhaps.

I don’t think that’s what Paulogia did. It seems he was onboard with Josh’s interpretation of Genesis, even though they disagree about other sections of the Bible. But let’s say he doesn’t agree with Josh about anything. I can still see why he would invite Josh on his show to educate people, particularly Christians, that there is more than one Christian viewpoint on matters not essential to salvation. I encourage my students to read authors I disagree with all the time. Sometimes an author I don’t agree with on certain things will have a really good rebuttal to another author I also happen to disagree with. For example, I don’t agree with Todd Wood’s ideas about YEC, but I think he has some excellent responses to certain ideas coming from other YEC’s, such as Ken Ham. And since Wood is YEC, my YEC leaning students are more willing to consider critiques coming from him than if they came from me. I don’t do it to set off fireworks, I do it get my students to consider different views. I would be doing them a disservice if I only had them read authors I agree with 100% - assuming I could even find one.

ETA: I once directed a student to an article on AiG’s website to read why the argument “laminins are shaped like a cross” is bad apologetics and they should stop saying it. Should I not have done that?


We are indeed all sinners, but you haven’t provided any real justification for your claim that Paul was being dishonest.

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No perhaps about it. That does indeed necessarily follow. Do you need an explanation?


He says pretty clearly that animal death is not compatible with God being good. Do you dispute that?

Actually, I asked him specifically about motivation, and this wasn’t it.

He rejects Christianity, but also respects my work, seeing common cause. Personally, he feels as though he was duped by dishonest YECs in his upbringing, and that is why he critiques them so harshly. It is personal for him. But at the same time, he did no think it would be sensible for an atheist to critique their theology. Instead, he wanted to be charitable to Christianity by allowing a Christian to critique it.


That was pretty interesting actually. Unless he was totally putting on an act, it really seemed like he saw a lot of sense in how I looked at Scripture.

It is notable that he stated that the issue was the top down structure of AIG, where Hams interpretation is taken as God word. That is important, because by making that point he is acknowledging that the issue isn’t with the Bible per se, but with Ham’s interpretation of it.

That of course was precisely my argument. So of course I agree. Rather, we agree on that.


I agree that people should always read different views - partially why I’m here :slight_smile: And why I sometimes listen to Paulogia or recently PineCreek and Jon Steingard or sometimes interviews from other Christians I don’t agree with. I also don’t agree with my family or people in my church on lots of issues, but still consider what they say. :slight_smile: Sometimes I have to take breaks from atheist skepticism though. Spending time reading the Bible or a good book is much more enjoyable.

I know we’ve covered this before last year sometime, but I don’t remember what you had said. Since I’m inclined to agree with your interpretation, if you have a concise explanation, sure, I’ll take it to see if my “perhaps” was unwarranted.

Sigh. I really don’t want to watch the video again to see exactly what he said. But again, this is a strawman. Obviously he did say that it is not compatible with creation being called very good. I’m not sure how he can say animal death is not compatible with God being good, if there is death today. If you have an exact quote otherwise, please share.

@swamidass In informal contexts, and especially when you critique creationists, I think you are often far too loose with words. You know that I am a stickler with words. Often I agree with @John_Harshman when he’s frustrated by vague responses here in the forum. Words matter, and here they are the difference between gigantic strawmen and correctly representing someone’s position. Speaking of cartoons, the picture you paint of creationists is often a cartoon and seems like a profile you’ve built up in your own head around your own change of thinking from my POV. Especially this bothers me when you’re on an atheist’s channel obviously. So I’m giving you the benefit of the doubt that you need to be more precise with words, rather than that you’re deliberately misrepresenting positions, or that you’re putting words in people’s mouths based on what you think they’re saying rather than what you’re actually saying. I do hope you are wanting to precisely understand their arguments.

Well, I would not expect him to be honest if that was his motivation, yikes. Why would you agree to come on then?

So after these two responses, I couldn’t help but re-listen to Jon Steingard’s interview with him, as I thought that was where he mentioned you/your book. His reference there wasn’t exactly like I remember it, so I either remembered it slightly wrong, or Paulogia mentioned you another time in a different interview and that sticks out to me more. I’m quite certain he did make another mention as I remember him specifically saying he leans toward the Ken Ham interpretation as being more valid, along with reference to GAE. Either way, listening to it helped me clarify his motivation for his channel, why he might come off to me the wrong way, etc.

But @swamidass I do think you’re misunderstanding Paul and his view of your way of looking at Scripture too, unless he’s changed his mind in a few months since the interview. I do think it’s obvious his issue is with the Bible and its truthfulness, not the truth of any one interpretation. I’ll link the video and point out some time stamps I thought were more important in that regard. I didn’t take note of the section, but he also generally talks about not liking top-down structures because then people don’t think through things for themselves.

at around 10:00 - Paulogia explains in his channel he thinks of his audience as Christians possibly questioning things and talks to them as if he were himself 5 years ago. (This explains why his videos sometimes feel like an act to me I think; he’s deliberately deciding to speak to Christians in a particular way that maybe doesn’t reflect everything he’s currently thinking.)

25:40 - 26:40 - He explains he left Christianity in part (I’m summarizing) because he found Ham’s interpretation too rigid, and Craig’s too loose, so he began to wonder if the Bible was just wrong

37:30 - 38:30 - He explains that he thought Jesus believed in a historical Adam (so that made him question Jesus is the implication). Here he references @swamidass and theories around common descent. Implication from my POV is he knows people try to reconcile these things; but it hasn’t changed his mind on the Bible.

1:05:00 - 1:11:00 - (Since there was a lot of talk in the interview about temporary life and whether that was good, I think Christians should grapple with what they as atheists say here and what that means for the discussion of origins and how we think about life) Jon and Paul reference temporary life and rarity giving life more meaning than Christian ideas of eternity


Once you discover your own propensity to rationalize the world around you to be compatible with your beliefs, it becomes all the more clear when you see others do it. When you step behind the curtain and look back, it’s so obvious this is what is going on.

The Bible “has so many layers” in which it can be understood, so many stories and morals. Some people even rationalize that when it doesn’t make sense then it’s supposed to not make sense. The ultimate rationalization: It’s ambiguity is intended, because this very ambiguity somehow fosters the capacity to keep people coming back to it to try to make sense of it.

You have no idea what this looks like from the outside.

Now add the knowledge that extant religions are essentially cultural memes that themselves evolved to their present forms from previous religions, by having the properties that spur people to propagate them to their offspring and people around them.

The magic trick is ruined when the magician shows you the actual trick.